Recently I read an article that highlighted tell-tale signs that one’s partner may have abusive tendencies:
a) He or she was physically abused or psychologically abused as a child.
b) He or she has previous involvement with domestic violence.
c) He or she saw one parent beat or dominate the other
d) He or she witnessed one or both of their parents abuse alcohol or drugs.
According to the article, it would appear I’m a violent person, but I’m I really? No.
On why I could be a teetotaller, a good friend Jowal posted a very insightful comment; he quoted a story about two brothers who turned out so different from watching their father abuse alcohol; one became a teetotaller because he didn’t want to be like the father whereas the other became an alcoholic, just like the father. Basically, in life one can’t always choose what they go through, but one has the power to choose what path they take afterwards.
As a child, I was introverted, but I didn’t miss the chance to ‘dig my claws’ into anyone who crossed my path. Students knew I was a walking time bomb, even though I managed to hide behind a façade of equanimity; but I was fine, as long as no one tried to ‘detonate’ me. When I was far from my mom, where I knew she couldn’t intervene, I’d take matters into my own hands; standing up to anyone who dared offend me.
Sometimes I’m tempted to think my mom resulted to have us-my sisters and me- shipped away to boarding school to save us from the daily violent attacks dad put us through when he and alcohol became best buddies. The attacks weren’t really aimed at us, but somehow we got caught in between.
I remember one time, while away in boarding school, I got into a fight with a girl I shared a bunk bed with. It was late at night. The matron on duty came rushing to our dormitory when the other girls started screaming. By the time she walked in, some girls had managed to tear us apart. One big girl had pinned my arms behind my back. As I stood there panting heavily, I took a moment to access the damage I’d made; I realized my adversary had scratches on her face and somehow I’d ripped her night dress from the neckline downwards.
I couldn’t recall doing it; I had done it in a heated moment…incandescent with rage.
The matron matched us to the headmistress’ quarters, but as it was late she asked us to see her in her office early the next day. The following day, during our Friday assembly, we were paraded before the whole school, with the furious headmistress branding us the two bulls of the school. We spent the better part of that day carrying out our punishment.
I wasn’t one of those kids who picked fights with anyone for no apparent reason; whenever I got into fights it was to defend myself or people I loved. For instance, when I got into that fight, it was after stomaching prolonged tension inflicted on me by my bed mate, a girl others feared because no one understood her background.
When clearing from primary school, one of my friends, who was the school’s headgirl at the time signed my leavers book; she added a P/S, requesting me not to start the third world war. I laughed when I read it, but I wasn’t oblivious to what she meant.
When I joined high school, I didn’t like the school at first because my dad had forced me to go there. I spent the whole of my first year contemplating my transfer. My mom was behind me all the way. She didn’t want to see me suffer and she understood I wasn’t comfortable in that school. The situation was even worsened by the fact that I’d gotten off on the wrong foot with the school’s administration; I had my long hair relaxed, which was against school policy. I spent the first term in and out of the principal’s and the guidance counselor’s offices explaining why I wasn’t going to shave my hair as was the required punishment.
The other girls loved my hair; they sympathized with me. Slowly, I came out of the shell I’d retreated into and I realized the school wasn’t that bad. During that period, I also realized I didn’t want to retaliate. If anyone crossed my path I’d just ignore them. I realized it was easier to be indifferent towards them than get myself into more trouble with the administration. My conscience also felt light; I wasn’t tormented by the memory of hurtful stuff I’d said to someone during a heated argument. I enjoyed the tranquility.
The students I went to high school with never got to meet my wild, untamed side. I had realized violence didn’t solve anything; it just aggravated things.
It wasn’t easy to remain graceful under pressure, but I tried. When I went back home I would find myself in the all-too-familiar scene; dad driving everyone up the wall. I would sermon all my strength, restraining the anger burning inside me; sometimes it would work, but at other times I would succumb to my rage. I would speak my mind out; in most cases the words felt like dagger stabs to those on the receiving end; I just didn’t see the need to sugar-coat things.
I knew I had only said what needed to be said; nothing was untrue, but even so, I couldn’t stand the guilt of knowing I had intentionally/unintentionally hurt someone. I learnt to bite my tongue. It was a struggle bottling up all the emotions, which were a combustible mix of raw anger and frustration. I fell sick in the process from all the stress; but I never looked back. I pressed on, determined to change my violent ways. After a few years, I learned to control my temper.
I would attribute my violent outbursts to the fact that I was subjected to so much domestic violence, but I made a choice; to not be like my father. It was difficult, and still is; sometimes I run into people, who get my patience running awfully thin, but I have mastered the art of walking away; nevertheless, dad hasn’t changed; he’s actually more violent than ever, but watching him just strengthens my urge to be a better person. That’s a choice I made. Everyone has a choice to be what they want to be.